Posted by: Paul | October 27, 2010


On a fun task at the moment. I’ve been asked to create an audio ident, or a sting, to bookend video material on a client’s website.

This is where the creative part of what I do kicks in, but sometimes it’s a bit like getting blood out of a stone. Though I do enjoy this kind of work, I’m not massively musical so I find it quite hard going – it’s ever so precise, and if you’ve never attempted anything like it then you’d be surprised at the amount of work which goes into creating something roughly five seconds long.

These stings are everywhere, and most of the time you don’t notice them. A huge amount of companies or institutions who do any kind of regular TV advertising have them as a matter of course, and they lavish literally thousands of pounds on expensive professional studios to make them. Ho hum, here’s me and my copy of ProTools, plugging away slowly…!

Anyway, there are two basic approaches – you can make something completely from scratch, or you can cheat. I’m experimenting with both.

The making something from scratch approach is the really time consuming one. In essence it’s quite a simple process – set up a few instrument tracks in ProTools, boot up your Virtual Instrument of choice, and get composing. I tend to begin by thinking about the client’s brand and their audience, and then finding a sound that suits (or at least, wouldn’t send them running for the hills). I tend to start with a pad or a drone, some kind of suitable continuous sound which will form the base and I can then layer with other ‘spot’ sounds which will form a short melody. Once I have the melody and the base texture, I’ll consider what else is missing – a bassline? Percussion perhaps? And so on and so forth, tweaking for hours until it sounds…passable 😉

The cheat’s approach is to take sounds which are pre-made – samples and audio clips which you can arrange and then mess around with by filtering, reversing, time stretching and so on. The base sounds for these would once have been made using the ‘from scratch’ approach as constituent parts for larger compositions, or perhaps solo sound effects in their own right. This can be just as involving, but should in theory take less time than making something up. The trade-off is that you have less absolute control.

So because I don’t know exactly how the client is going to react to any individual sting, I’m sending a small range of things made using both approaches. Rest assured, if one is selected I will be pointing to it right here as soon as something has gone live with it attached. Watch this space!

P.S. Post 300 today. Can’t quite believe it.


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